Disclaimer: We don't own anything. Robb, Jon, Ned, Westeros, Essos etc. remain the property of Mr Martin, and Damon, Bonnie, Katherine, and their supernatural friends are creations of LJ Smith and Julie Plec.
A Red Sun Rises
How had it all come to this? The blood, the screams, the death. Men fell all around him, dead before they could even utter a cry of horror, their throats torn from their necks. His sword dripped with red. Katherine, Damon; these faces and names were at once as familiar to him as if he had known them his whole life, and yet they had become alien.
"Katherine, behind you!" shouted Robb. His wife turned, her dark eyes made darker by bloodlust and her teeth gleaming white in her crimson grin. Her beauty was otherworldly and terrifying as she snapped the neck of the man who had thought attacking her from behind would give him a better chance. The white muslin of her dress had turned red long ago.
And Damon. Cocky, smiling Damon who had jested with Arya, flirted with Sansa, and built snow fortresses for them to fight in. Oh, he was still cocky, there was no doubt about it, but the speed and the grace with which he moved, and the fact he didn't need a sword to take out someone's heart…
The Freys' halls echoed with the screams of the dying and the snarls of those who simply refused to die. The flagstones were painted dark red.
How had it all begun?
Chapter 1: Lost
At first, Damon thought he was dead. Not undead-dead, as he had been for the past century and a half, but dead-dead. He was a little disappointed in himself, actually, not least because he couldn't exactly remember how he had died.
Then he realized the cold he was feeling in his bones wasn't rigor-mortis, and it wasn't the apathy and nothingness of the afterlife. It was just freaking cold outside, and for some reason, he was lying in the mud. Well, it would have been mud if it hadn't been frozen.
He sat up, rubbing the heaviness from his eyes and blinking several times. Everything around him seemed foreign. A few hardy pines stood against the biting north winds and the grass clung stubbornly to the rolling hills, braced against the snow that was sure to come with those dark clouds. Breaking the landscape was the blackness of a leather jacket, and the person who wore it.
The last thing Damon remembered before waking up in this freezing hellhole was the blast of light knocking them back as the door of Silas' tomb had been opened. Who had been with him? Not Elena, fortunately. She was still –relatively− safe somewhere that was not the same temperature as a meat locker. At least, he hoped that was the case. He hoped he'd done the right thing by sending her away right before he and Klaus and Bonnie had opened the tomb.
Well, he said 'sending' because that was the best word for it he could come up with, but chasing had been closer to the truth. The only way to keep her safe had been to keep her away, and the only way to keep her away was to severe all ties between them. She only fancied herself in love with him anyway because of the sire bond. Once she was human again, all of it would have just been a sweet nightmare that would haunt him for the rest of his immortal existence.
"Bonnie?" said Damon as he bent down over the unconscious girl. Not his most favourite person in the world, and the feeling was mutual. Should he look on the bright side at least and be grateful that it wasn't Klaus? Although, Klaus would not be in need of rescuing in a situation like this.
"Hey, wake up, witchy," said Damon. He patted her cold lifeless cheeks. Her lips were tinged with blue. He tried to rub some warmth back into her arms and hands, but he knew that unless they found shelter –it seemed unlikely− and fire, she was never going to wake up from this coma. For the first time in his life, Damon wished he were a werewolf. They might be smelly and uncultured and dumber than most creatures –that brawn had to be compensated for− but they had higher body temperatures than…say…the average vampire.
"Shit," he muttered. Human-Elena would not forgive him if Bonnie died on his watch. He might not hold much hope for her still retaining those feelings for him once she turned human again, but he still had hope, and he wasn't going to put an end to it. He fed her a bit of his blood – just a wee bit. He didn't give blood freely, especially not to people he didn't like. However, this was just the right amount. It kept her alive, but weak enough so she wouldn't give him a brain aneurism, as she was prone to doing.
The wind blew his words away. He took off his jacket and wrapped it around the freezing witch. This jacket, as lacking as it was, was better than nothing, right? Not that he actually liked Bonnie, but she was possibly the only person in the world who knew how to take them back to the United States of America where temperatures were more reasonable and where Elena was.
What was that moving on the horizon? A lone struggling man, running from something. Oh good. Dinner. "Be right back," he muttered to Bonnie, just for the sake of saying something. Damon didn't do silence well for long periods of time. The man was wearing a heavy fur cloak against the cold, and he kept glancing backwards. In fact, he glanced backwards so much he didn't notice Damon straight in front of him.
"Hey, buddy," said the vampire with a grin. "Going somewhere in a hurry? Outstanding parking ticket? Or have you been bear poaching?"
"I suggest you get out of my way," said the man, drawing his sword. He was a skinny thing. Couldn't be older than twenty. Malnourished, bad teeth, easy prey.
"And I'd suggest you be nice to me," said Damon, staring into the man's eyes. "You won't scream, and you won't remember a thing afterwards."
The man lunged at him, and if Damon hadn't been a vampire, he'd have been cleaved in half by the giant steel blade. As it were, the swing missed him by several inches as he moved to one side with inhuman speed, and before the man knew what was going on, the vampire had twisted his sword arm behind his back, making him drop the weapon.
"O-kay," said Damon. Compulsion didn't work? Was this man on vervain? He sniffed. It didn't smell as if he was on vervain.
"Look, if you're here to kill me, do it, but I'm not going back there."
"Back where?" asked Damon.
"The Wall! Isn't that why you're after me? Because I deserted? Look, I know I took an oath, but you didn't see what was out there. They were dead, but they weren't, and they killed that whole family. They got the others. They almost got me."
"If it's undead you're worried about, then this really isn't your day," said Damon.
And that was the end of that conversation. Later, as he wiped the blood from his lips and let the body drop, he wondered what the man had been going on about. He had no vervain in his system, but he was immune to compulsion. He spoke of the living dead. And a wall. But he was quite sure it wasn't the Great Wall of China he was referring to. He'd been to China before, and this wasn't it.
He picked up Bonnie again and continued on his way…somewhere. If there was one human, there were bound to be more, right? He hoped. And the man had been running. Where the hell were his pursuers? He didn't have to wait long to find them.
A group of horsemen were approaching. Yes, horsemen. They even had those funny pointy medieval helmets and spears and everything. Either he'd stumbled into a really dedicated group of medieval cos-players, or there was something very wrong about this whole situation. He was more inclined to choose the latter. Still, people were people, and Bonnie needed help.
He started running towards them in a human fashion, all the while shouting for help. It grated on his pride to have to ask for anything from any human, but even he had to admit he wasn't invincible. Not everyone had the luxury of being a bastard vampire-werewolf hybrid.
Although, if they refused to help him, he might just pull a Klaus and slaughter them all, and skin their horses to make a tent.
Leading them was a weathered man who Damon presumed to be in his forties, or perhaps even younger. In these conditions, most humans would age prematurely.
The man reined in his horse right before Damon. If they had gotten any closer, Damon might have had to make horse-steak tartare. It was Intimidation 101 and he knew these tricks better than anyone. It had been a while since he'd tried them with a horse, though. For him, it was Lamborghinis all the way.
"What is your business here?" demanded the man. His face was covered with a thick beard which glistened with ice crystals, and he wore enough fur to resemble an Ice Age human. Perhaps this was what this was. An ice age.
"We're lost," said Damon. Technically true. After all, if he didn't know what universe he was in, then it counted as being lost. "We wandered off the path and could not find it again." He took a deep breath. The word that came next was one he never used if he could help it. It tasted bad. "Please. My friend needs help." He glanced down at the unconscious Bonnie in his arms. She looked pathetic, which could only help their cause.
The man motioned to some of the people behind him. Two armoured men dismounted. One wrapped a fur cloak around Bonnie carefully as the other offered another cloak to Damon. The vampire accepted it and thanked the man – a foreign action, as Damon Salvatore never said thank you if he weren't being sarcastic. However, Stefan occasionally got things right, and until Damon figured out where they were, it would be best if he took a page from his brother's book and exhibited some of the manners that had been drilled into him since birth. It wasn't because he needed the cloak, but it would stand out if he didn't need it. Being Human 101.
"What is your name?" asked the leader, more kindly this time. Damon supposed he looked pretty harmless –which couldn't be further from the truth, but King Arthur didn't know that, and Damon wasn't about to correct him.
"Damon," he replied. "That's Bonnie."
"Daemon, as in Daemon Blackfyre?"
"As in Damon Salvatore."
"Well, Damon Salvatore," said King Arthur. "The gods are either smiling on you or you have some dumb luck. It was no small miracle that both you and your friend are still alive. But, there still remains the question of what two young people are doing out here all alone. This is hardly the place for a lovers' tryst."
Damon flashed him a winning grin –the type that either charmed everyone or made them want to punch him in the face, depending on the context. Although they hardly ever did try to punch him in the face, because they knew if they did, he'd rip them a new grin all of their own.
"We're wanderers, sir," he said. Technically not untrue. He'd led quite a nomadic life in his pre-Elena days. "We go where there's work, and take what work we can get." Substitute 'work' with 'blood' and that was a very apt description of his life. Also, compelling people was hard work too. So was unearthing long buried immortal witches, stopping an apocalypse or several, killing hybrids, and staking originals. In fact, those were highly specialized and skilled jobs. Oh, and he'd been a soldier once upon a very very very very long time ago. But that had been a low skill job and since he'd deserted, he didn't think it was worth mentioning on his resume.
"Do you know who I am, Damon Salvatore?" asked Arthur.
Damon was sorely tempted to answer with something extremely intelligent, but refrained. He doubted they would appreciate his wit.
"Am I supposed to?" he asked.
"Show some respect," said a younger man sharply. "It is to Eddard Stark, Lord of Winterfell, that you speak."
Eddard –what was wrong with Edward, apart from the fact the name belonged to a sparkly vampire?− Stark raised a hand. "He meant no harm by it, Robb," he said.
"Forgive me, my lord," said Damon. Lords were tricky creatures; extremely volatile in nature, oftentimes petty, and prone to one eighty degree mood swings. However, their veins all produced excellent vintages, thanks to the better than average food. He had not had very much experience with lords in general, having been turned after the feudal age, but the ones he had tasted –mainly in England and parts of continental Europe− had been very good indeed. "I did not know."
Eddard waved away his apology.
"I cannot fault you for not knowing," he said. "Although I am surprised a man as well-spoken as yourself would be ignorant of the great houses of Westeros."
Ah, so they were in Westeros, were they? Where the hell was that? Somewhere in the west, he supposed, which wasn't very helpful, as everything was relative because the world was round. He wondered if these people knew that. Possibly not.
In such a situation, it would be best not to say anything. Indeed, there were times –rare times− when even Damon Salvatore would keep his mouth shut.
"What do you do, Salvatore?" asked Eddard.
"Everything," said Damon. "But I am a fighter first and foremost."
"You are a soldier?"
"More a freelancer, but I could consider a more permanent position if you are offering. My lord."
Eddard chuckled while his men and young Robb, presumably some male relative of his, most likely his son, looked on in perplexity. "You have some courage, young man. We'll talk about it when we get back to Winterfell."
A panicked shout caught Eddard's attention. A horseman was galloping up to them, panic in his eyes. "M'lord, we found him," he said.
"Where is he?" asked Eddard.
"You should come and see this."
Robb Stark stared at the corpse of the man, so pale and drained of blood. His throat had been ripped out, but instead of the pool of gore one would expect in such a situation, there was…nothing.
"What could have done this, Father?" he asked. "The wound looks too small to have been made by a bear." No, he didn't believe in the farfetched tales the nurse had told him when he'd been a boy. There was nothing beyond the Wall except Wildlings and Dire Wolves and all manners of natural beasts. Dead things did not come back to life, and they certainly did not eat naughty children. Or Night's Watch deserters.
"Bandits?" asked the young man beside him doubtfully.
"There are bite marks," said Robb to his constant companion and his father's ward, Theon Greyjoy.
"Fair enough," said Theon. "A wolf, then?"
"Perhaps," said Ned. However, he seemed doubtful. He turned to his men. "Bury him." He didn't want anyone else to find the body and wonder if the old wives' tales were true.
Winterfell was as cheerful as its name implied. Dark stone, glistening with ice crystals. The portcullis was raised with a groan to admit the lordly party. Within were the sounds of goats and chickens and dogs and horses. The smell of unwashed human pervaded the whole courtyard. Baths, obviously, were a foreign concept to these people. The cold was the only thing stopping an epidemic of flees or the plague from spreading among them.
The unconscious Bonnie was quickly given over to the care of female servants and the 'maesters' –apparently the only people with decent education, rather like priests in medieval Europe. He supposed it would be suspicious if she healed too quickly because he gave her too much blood. However, no one would notice a drop or two in her nasty herbal teas, right? And no, that wasn't a sign of him caring.
Damon was taken to the barracks, where he was "fed" and "watered". The rations of cold meat and coarse bread were barely edible. He forced some down just for show, resolving to go hunting tonight. Even if military men might not be the best of choices, there were plenty of outlying farms with farmers and farmers' daughters. If he was back by dawn, who would know? Despite popular belief, he could be subtle. How else could he have survived for so long?
He attracted curious stares from the soldiers as magnets attracted iron filings. He just couldn't help it. One look at him, and they would know he wasn't one of them. He was just too handsome and charmingly debonair.
"You don't look like much of a fighter," said one of the men with a little more than a sneer in his tone.
"They say not to judge a book by its cover, but then I don't suppose you've ever read a book," said Damon, lifting his cup in mock salute.
Another man snorted.
"And I suppose you have?" came Eddard Stark's voice. The men parted to let him through and bowed when he passed them. Damon, taking his cue from the others, also bowed.
"My lord," he said.
"I see you have settled in, Damon Salvatore," said Eddard. "Excellent. I would like to see what you can do."
A great many things, but this human façade was putting a little limitation on his flair.
He followed Stark and his men outside, where a small crowd had gathered to try and catch a glimpse of the very handsome stranger who had stumbled his way into this little town slash military boot camp. There was the normal part of the place, which had stalls with chicken corpses hanging by their feet, bunches of herbs, crates of vegetables, and a limited array of iron swords that looked as if they belonged in Hollywood's prop storage. Then there were the barracks with the seasoned male humans and all the testosterone that came with it. He heard them whispering as he passed, saying something about "soft southerners". Soft, was he? Well, they were softer.
The practise yard was basically a fenced off square of mud. Too many feet trampled any brave new shoots of grass attempting to grow there. Men had gathered around the yard to watch this spectacle. They really needed a new form of entertainment around here. Say, what about a circus? Contortionists made for excellent companions.
Another man got into the yard with Damon as his friend cheered him on. "Show the boy a thing or two!" one of them called. Damon's opponent was stocky, but short, and he wielded a sword like it was an extension of his arm. The vampire, on the other hand, was not going to be an easy adversary. He'd trained vampire hunters and ripped hearts out of hybrids before. And before that, he'd been a confederate soldier. A terrible one –a deserter, actually− but even so, he still learned a thing or two about stabbing people with long cold remorseless pieces of metal.
He teased his opponent mercilessly, dodging and parrying with ease, and adding in a few humiliating glances with the wooden practise sword. He didn't take it seriously. If he did, the man would be dead with a wooden sword protruding from his chest. He practically wrote the manual on stabbing people with wood. In the front and in the back, but mostly in the heart.
Within a minute, his opponent was disarmed, and he had a sword to his throat. "Good warm up," said Damon. "Who's next?"
The men of Winterfell were not men who would deny a challenge. They were proud Northerners, and slightly disdainful of their 'softer' southern counterparts. There was nothing soft about Salvatore, however, as he beat man after man after man without so much as running out of breath. "I can do this all day, my lord," he said to Ned as he gave him an over-exaggerated bow.
"He is very skilled," said Ser Rodrik Cassel, Winterfell's arms master.
"He is arrogant," said Ned. "He fears nothing. I cannot control a man like that."
"Men like this Salvatore are not controlled, milord," said Rodrik. "They are unleashed."
"He is a wild card."
"We have his friend. He will behave, if not for his own sake, then for hers."
Ned looked at Rodrik, a loyal man who had served him for years. His words were not without reason. To be honest, he could use a fighter like Damon. He wasn't Tywin Lannister, and he did not have the money to amass all the best warriors under the sun beneath his banner. But he could have Damon Salvatore. Who knew? He might even prove to be useful once winter came.
"All right, he stays," said Ned.
Warmth. Delicious warmth. Bonnie relished it. Somewhere not so far away, there was a crackling fire. "Good, you are awake," said a strange voice. The witch immediately opened her eyes to find herself staring at an unfamiliar ceiling. All her memories came back to her at that instant. Silas, the tomb, the spell. What had happened? It had gone wrong, as far as she knew, but how wrong exactly? And why was she covered in furs instead of a normal comforter?
"Where am I?" she asked, sitting up immediately, only to find that her body was weak.
"You're in Winterfell, child," said the stern but kindly nun who sat by her bedside, an embroidery hoop in her lap. What on earth? The room smelled of herbs and fresh…rushes? Bonnie remembered the medieval research paper she had to do. They used rushes in the medieval world to cover their floors and sometimes added lavender or lilacs as a primitive air freshener. This was exactly it. Had the spell gone so wrong as to transport her back in time? And where the hell was Winterfell anyway?
"Where?" she could only repeat.
"Winterfell. Do you not know where that is?" The nun seemed very surprised by her ignorance.
"I haven't heard of it."
"It is in the north."
"Like…Alaska?" Please let it be Alaska, she thought. Alaska was ten thousand times better than medieval Siberia or something like that. Were there even people in medieval Siberia?
"It is the North, not Alaska…what is Alaska?"
"Who are you?"
"I am the Septa in Winterfell. Mordane is my name."
"Where is the North?" asked Bonnie. If not Alaska, then Canada at least? Please let it be Canada, she thought.
The 'septa' looked at her as if she were crazy. "In Westeros, child. By the seven, do you know nothing?"
She heard the blood roar in her ears. The flames in the hearth flared and the wind suddenly rose outside in an almost human howl, voicing her terror and confusion and anguish. The old woman stood up abruptly. It was her sudden movement that dragged Bonnie back to the present, and she managed to stop it before any more trouble could be caused.
"That was strange," said Mordane, looking at Bonnie oddly. Bonnie ignored her comment.
"How did I get here?" she asked, more calmly this time. There could be no more accidents. Most people didn't like witches. It wasn't that she couldn't deal with people who wanted to kill her, but she didn't really want to have to.
"Your friend Damon intercepted Lord Stark on the road," said Mordane.
"Damon?" He was hardly a friend, but he was a familiar face, and for Elena's sake, he had tried to limit the number of times he had had to hurt her. Right now, even Damon was better than nothing. Hell, she might even settle for Klaus. But Damon was better than Klaus. "Where is Damon?"
"Last I heard, he was beating all the men at sparring and charming the ladies," said Mordane. She pressed her thin lips together in a barely veiled expression of disapproval. Damon tended to have that effect on people. Bonnie warmed up to Mordane a little more.
"Can I see him?" asked Bonnie.
"A word of advice, child. Stay away from men like him. A decent woman shouldn't even know someone like that."
"There's nothing going on between Damon and me," said Bonnie. "And there never will be anything." No way. Damon was obsessed with Elena. It was always Elena, and it always would be. Not that Bonnie would choose any differently. She'd pick Elena over Damon too.
The septa tsked but rose to summon Damon anyway. The vampire entered moments later, wearing a smug grin on his face. Bonnie considered wiping it off for him, but she needed him to tell her what was going on so they could corroborate their stories. Somehow, even dressed in loose trousers and a long tunic belted at the waist, Damon still looked like a rebel without a cause. As much as she did not like him, she could not deny he was a very good looking specimen of the masculine species.
They stared at each other. Bonnie broke the silence first. "What's going on, Damon? How are we here? Where are the others?"
"No idea to the first and no idea to the second either," said Damon.
"What did you tell them?"
"That you and I are travellers from the south and you're just under my protection. Oh, and I'm a merc now."
"You don't have to say it like that. I know what a mercenary is."
"Just had to be sure. Hey, you don't have to look at me like that. You're safe. The Starks –they rule this…uh…place− they've taken us in."
"And obviously they've invited you in."
"It wasn't hard to get an invitation. It's a universal truth that I have a certain charming way about me." Damon shrugged. "We're safe here for now, until we figure out what to do and how to get back. Although, I suggest you keep that freaky side of yourself hidden."
"Duh," said Bonnie.
"They don't say that in Winterfell. You should learn to fit in if you want to live here."